Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Advice for Companies: How to Keep Your Cloud Moving Forward

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These days most companies are onboard with cloud computing.  However, what factors or trends do they need to weigh as they seek to improve their deployment in 2018?

Of course, it varies based upon the particular company, but there are some universal trends to look at, as well as some advice to provide.  We’ll take a quick look at what’s happening now, as well as how to ensure that your enterprise’s cloud momentum does not stop.

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Core to this issue is that the cloud is not always indicated in a technology solution.  While it’s fine for most applications workloads, there are instances where it’s just not a technical and economic fit.

This applies to as much as 40 percent of enterprise workloads.  The typical factors that disqualify a cloud solution are legacy systems and applications, or proprietary databases that are just too hard and too expensive to move. 

Some of this waning cloud momentum is a byproduct of the inability to find workable platform analogs in the public and private clouds.  This reinforces the notion that we will reach a saturation point, at some point.

Of course, technology is always changing.  That lagging 40 percent could be finally migrated as cloud technology improves and becomes more inclusive to older platforms.  Moreover, we’re just getting better at migration and refactoring, and thus the “learning curve” may not be an issue in a few years.

Cloud Trends 2018

A new study by Kleiner Perkins showed a sharp increase in the number of buyers who are citing the possibility of lock-in as one of their top three concerns in moving to the cloud. 22 percent cited that possibility as an important concern in 2015 compared to just seven percent of buyers who thought this was a major concern in 2012 (see Figure). 

Of course, lock-in is not the only concern.  As you can see from the Figure below, both security and compliance are still on the radar of most enterprises moving to cloud.  Also mentioned is uncertainty around costs. 

Grumbling about lock-in has become more pronounced over the last few years as AWS consolidates its market share and continues to crank out compelling new features that require just enough customization work to embrace. This concerns enterprises that lived through this with Oracle, IBM, HP, and other larger enterprise technology players who promoted proprietary products that also proved uneconomical to remove.

artificial intelligence and business

Figure:  More enterprises are concerned about vendor lock-in, according to a recent study by Kleiner Perkins.

This study pretty much reflects the current trend in the US to not push back on cloud, but to slow things down. The real pushback is around fear.  Fear that the cost savings just won’t be there, or that the applications will fail, or, worse, that the applications will be hacked and the data exposed or removed, à la the Equifax breach (which was not cloud related, by the way).

In order to keep your cloud efforts moving forward, there are some specific things that you can do within your enterprise, hopefully without being fired.  They include:

Remind the stakeholders that agility is the ultimate value.  Remember when it took months to get hardware and software provisioned? If that time was last week, you have an agility and time-to-market problem. 

While cloud computing won’t solve all agility issues, the core benefit is the ability to get resources, such as compute and storage systems, provisioned as needed.  This on-demand access to the instant configuration of resources is really more of a selling point than pay-per-use.  Indeed, I suspect that leveraging a public cloud may be more expensive, in some instances, than leveraging traditional hardware and software, but it’s still of huge value when you consider the agility and time-to-market benefits. 

The trouble is that enterprises have heard this before.  The value of agility from SOA, distributed objects, and even client/server from the 90s.  Moreover, the metrics related to agility are all over the place, considering agility’s differing values from company to company.

That said, this means that cloud computing is generally strategic, and not just tactical technology. It needs to be understood in that light, and the value defined for the stakeholder to justify funding.

Prove the value of cloud with small successes.  Many enterprises look at the deployment of cloud computing as big successes, and want to view their cloud migration and enablement as one huge mega project.  Not a good idea.

It’s much better to win small battles than win the war, when it comes to cloud computing. Small wins provide proof points for the stakeholder that cloud works, they generate strategic and tactical value, and thus should receive more investment. We’re talking about 4-20 systems migrated, or 2 or 3 net-new cloud computing applications built.

When it comes to cloud computing, we like big plans that span years.  It’s in your best interest to break the mega cloud plan down to bitesize projects.  This will allow you continuous proof points and metrics that will enable you to get more funding along the way.  Many small successes add up to big successes.

The truth of the matter is that cloud computing is highly politicized within enterprises.  The transition to the cloud can be a bit scary for those who have survived by keeping their head down and out of the political firing zone.  It’s easy to keep ducking.

However, there are people in IT who are truly dedicated to delivering value to the business, and they need to focus on the ability to adjust IT at the “speed of need.”  These are the real unsung heroes in enterprise IT, risk-takers who see the rewards of moving forward and the pitfalls of remaining in place.  And they have a new and highly effective tool:  Cloud computing.  





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